Julie Marson – 2022 Speech on Achieving Economic Growth

The speech made by Julie Marson, the Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford, in the House of Commons on 18 May 2022.

It is a pleasure to speak in this debate and to support the legislative agenda that the Government set out in the Queen’s Speech. When Harold Macmillan was asked what the greatest challenge facing a statesman was, he famously responded, “Events, dear boy, events”. During my entire time in this place, we have been buffeted by extraordinary, frightening events, not least for our constituents up and down the country, including in my constituency. There has been fear of the health consequences of the global pandemic, as well as its economic consequences on lives and livelihoods, and the pandemic is still having an impact across the globe, notably in China. The effect on supply chains of the covid resurgence in China, including in Shanghai, is also having a devastating economic impact.

We have had to face Russia’s evil and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Not only have we rightly imposed sanctions, which the whole House supports, but the invasion itself has had an economic impact. The Governor of the Bank of England warned this week at the Treasury Committee of the “apocalyptic” prospects for food prices. He also said clearly that 80% of the causes of inflation was due to global factors. That makes Government intervention very difficult. This is a very challenging time and the cost of living crisis is very challenging for any Government who face it. They are being buffeted by global events.

After listening to some very fine and impassioned speeches from Opposition Members, I cannot help but remember that, if things had gone differently, and if they had had their way, the leader talking to our NATO allies and shepherding this country through these economic and security crises would have been the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) and we would have had a Chancellor who brandished the little red book in this Chamber. So thank goodness—I believe this very strongly—that it is a Conservative Government who have been shepherding this economy and country through unprecedented, back-to-back crises over the past few years and who will continue to do so.

This Government, in shepherding and controlling the economy, have enabled us to support lives and livelihoods for the past few years to the tune of £400 billion. They continue to support people in need with a package currently of £22 billion for measures that include reducing fuel duty, raising national insurance thresholds, increasing the national living wage and others.

The heroes of the pandemic were our doctors, nurses and key workers. The future heroes in this global crisis will be the business owners, the workers in businesses and those who are innovating and starting new businesses. As I see it—I have said this before in the Chamber—that is where the Government’s role is that of a groundsman. It is about setting the pitch and conditions for our bowlers and batsmen to be able to respond to the difficult balls and to knock the easy balls out of the park. I see the context of this Queen’s Speech as one where, as the groundsman, we put in place those conditions, so that our players can play the best game available.

As the Chief Secretary set out, that means dealing with skills, innovation and infrastructure. All those measures are included in the Queen’s Speech: the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill; the Brexit freedoms Bill; proposals on data reform and financial services to support our critical venture capital industry; the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill; and the higher education Bill. This is a consistent, thought-through package of legislation that will deal with the global and domestic challenges in the years ahead. I absolutely commend it to the House.